Dr. Kalpana Kannan, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, has received a 2012 Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award to study novel prognostic markers and therapeutic targets for the disease.

Chimeric RNAs

Mentored by Dr. Laising Yen, assistant professor of pathology & immunology and of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Michael Ittman, professor of pathology & immunology at BCM, Kannan will receive a $225,000, three-year grant to continue her work with chimeric RNAs (fused RNA composed of two different gene products) in prostate cancer.

Kannan and the team have recently identified 27 novel highly recurrent chimeric RNAs in prostate cancer. Additionally, they have shown these RNAs occur at high frequency in cancers and form a potentially unique class of molecular alternations in prostate cancer.

Useful biomarkers

These RNAs could serve as useful biomarkers for the identification of prostate cancer subtypes, as well as new therapeutic targets for advanced prostate cancer. With the Prostate Cancer Foundation award, Kannan will evaluate this further.

"We are grateful for the generous support from Prostate Cancer Foundation which enables gifted young scientists like Dr. Kannan to focus on this important field," said Yen.

A total of 15 Young Investigator Awards were awarded in 2012. The awards were designed to promote long-term careers in the field of prostate cancer by providing three-year grants for transformation research focused on prostate cancer treatments to improve patient outcomes.